Shaq Mason is staying put — and getting paid.
The New England Patriots on Monday signed the 24-year-old guard to a five-year contract extension worth up to $50 million, according to a report from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo. The new deal includes $23.5 million guaranteed, a source told Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald.
Mason, a fourth-round Patriots draft pick in 2015, was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. He played in every game for New England over the past two seasons, starting at right guard in all but one.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick wouldn’t confirm Mason’s extension during his Monday afternoon news conference, but he did have high praise for the young offensive lineman, who needed a crash course in pass blocking early in his career after playing in a triple-option offense at Georgia Tech.
“Shaq’s done a good job for us from the time he got here,” Belichick said. “He came from an offense that was quite different from ours, and he adapted quickly and did a really good job of learning new techniques. He’s an athletic player, has good strength, good balance. Excellent run blocker. Can pull, run, hit. He’s gotten better each year, and he’s done a good job for us.
“He and (right guard Joe Thuney) and (center David Andrews), those three guys have played a lot of football together. They’re young. Hopefully, they can continue to play a lot for us in there.”
Mason’s extension, which carries an average annual value of $10 million, makes him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL at his position. Only six guards currently earn more than $10 million per year: Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys ($14 million), Andrew Norwell of the Jacksonville Jaguars ($13.3 million), Kevin Zeitler of the ($12 million), Kelechi Osemele of the Oakland Raiders ($11.7 million), Trai Turner of the Carolina Panthers ($11.25 million) and Oakland’s Gabe Jackson ($11 million).
Still, this is a solid deal for the Patriots. Mason, who turns 25 on Tuesday, was Pro Football Focus’s fourth-highest-graded guard last season and likely would have commanded a more lucrative contract in free agency next spring. The interior of New England’s O-line now is set for the foreseeable future, as Thuney and Andrews have two and three seasons remaining on their contracts, respectively.
The Patriots will visit the New York Giants this Thursday for their final preseason game before opening the regular season next Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium.
For more grades, advanced statistics and more at Pro Football Focus, go to ProFootballFocus.com.
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